Sunday, December 13, 2009

Summing up 2009, looking ahead at 2010

As the year is coming to an end, I would like to look at the three consoles and assess their current situation, while looking ahead at their potential performance in 2010.

The Wii is still the runaway success of this generation, but Nintendo obviously has the most to lose from this point on. Astonishingly, some Wii first party titles have remained among the top sellers across all platforms for years. ´Mario Kart´ and ´Wii Fit´ sold as much as ´Grand Theft Auto IV´ in 2008 and are among a total of five Wii titles in this year's top ten sellers in the US so far.

As far as a slowdown in hardware sales is concerned, some observers have overstated the case, I believe. Of course, when comparing sales this year to 2008, the numbers have indeed slowed down significantly. The price cut is the best proof of that. Companies only ever cut the price when the product is not selling. That was true of the Xbox360 and PS3 as well as the Wii. But NPD analyst Anita Frazier recently pointed out how well the Wii is doing still.

While there has been a lot of focus on Wii sales as compared to last year, the system was still the best-selling console system by a margin of 54 per cent. (...)

At this same point in the PS2 lifecycle, the PS2 was down in unit sales by 23 per cent over the previous year, but as history has shown, it continues to have a great deal of life left in it. So focusing on a comparison to Wii's stellar 2008 performance masks the reality of just how well this system is selling.

So do not worry. Nintendo is still raking in the money with both the hardware and first party software. But how well are third parties doing on the Wii? We had this discussion in January 2008 and again in August as well as in October of that year. In the last post, I noted the following:

A grand economic success of titles like ´The Conduit´, ´House of the Dead: Overkill´ or ´MadWorld´ will surely become examples the entire industry will follow. On the other hand, if these titles sell poorly, the Wii will get less and less mature titles and will become a casual console.

By now, it is quite clear that the latter scenario came true. All titles mentioned sold poorly or even abysmal, despite two of them being great games. So the Wii has failed as a platform for mature games by third parties, it must be said. And it is highly unlikely that this will change. In fact, I believe that Capcom may be regretting moving ´Monster Hunter Tri´ from a PS3 exclusive over to the Wii. The game is selling very well in Japan, but international sales are likely to disappoint as was the case with the games mentioned above. Of course, the Wii has become the console of choice for survival horror and Resident Evil fans alone cannot afford to be without ´Resident Evil 4 Wii Edition´, ´Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles´ and ´Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles´. But we are still waiting for a decent shooter and a few other genres, notably RPGs, are also understaffed.

Nintendo is even openly criticised by partners like Electronic Arts. Their CEO John Riccitiello has expressed disappointment about poor sales on the Wii platform and noted some problems Nintendo may be facing in the near future.

One, it's a very compelling platform. Two, third-parties can do a lot better on the platform with the right support from Nintendo. They've always been first-party-centric, and they're learning how to be third-party supportive.

My belief is the first platform to reach $149 is going to inherit much of that [PlayStation2] business. (...) The Wii is not gone. But if they maintain $199 and don't innovate, they're going to have a hard time competing with what's already been announced from Microsoft and Sony.

According to Games Industry, Riccitiello made the following remarks in the company's recent earnings call.

To be honest with you, I think the Wii platform has been a little weaker than we had certainly anticipated. And there is no lack of frustration to be doing that at precisely the time where we have the strongest third-party share. (...)

I think driving revenues up on that platform from where we already are, which is up substantially from where we were a year ago, we are reaching out to Nintendo to find ways to partner to push third-party software harder.

Wii is where we are missing it and so I really do think that the opportunity exists to find different ways to partner with first party in this case to sort of help establish in the minds of the consumer legitimacy of some of these other brands when they are going out multiplatform because very, very few multiplatform titles are succeeding on the Wii. (...)

I would point out, by the way, the 50 million number of course includes Asia or Japan and I don’t think any of the Western companies are likely to participate much at all on the Wii platform in Japan, so the addressable market we see is just a little bit below 40 million but that is still an important opportunity.

In the transcript of the earnings call, more background is provided.

Fiscal Year To Date, EA is the #1 independent publisher on the Wii with share of 21% in North America and we estimate 14% in Europe – up 8 and 10 points, respectively. Our non-GAAP Wii revenue is up 50% year-over-year. While we have hit our share goal for the Wii business, revenue is well below expectations due to underperformance of the Wii platform.

The problem is clear. Being such a strong first party publisher, Nintendo itself made most of the money off of the Wii platform. Although it is the clear market leader and will likely remain at the top, Nintendo failed to mobilise third parties. So whatever successor Iwata and Miyamoto are planning, it will suffer from the very same problem.

In fact, a successor to the Wii will in itself be a grand challenge. Normally, companies innovate with one generation and consolidate with the next. At least, this is the way Nintendo has done it so far. With the Wii lagging so clearly behind the competition in terms of hardware power and the competition ramping up their own motion control systems, which will no doubt be perceived as more advanced when they hit the market, Nintendo cannot afford to consolidate.

The next console, which may be called ´Zii´, had better be as innovative as the Wii. And in my mind, the only way this can be achieved is by some kind of 3D visuals. There has been plenty of evidence to support this and Sony is already ramping up their efforts in this department.

Yet Sony has very little money to invest. The corporation has come under intense pressure this year to reduce the price of their PlayStation3. They finally did and sales soared. However, this means that Sony is still subsidizing each unit sold, according to market intelligence firm iSuppli.

Based on a dissection and analysis of the console, iSuppli has determined that the 120Gbyte Hard Disk Drive (HDD) version new PlayStation 3, released in September, carries a combined Bill of Materials (BOM) and manufacturing/test cost of $336.27. At a newly reduced retail price of $299, the latest version of the PlayStation 3 comes closer to breaking even than any previous version of the product.

Losing money on each hardware unit sold some three years after the product launch is probably unprecedented in this industry and it is, naturally, the economics of the madhouse. At the very least, it is a huge gamble for Sony. They are finally selling decent amounts. But will those sales figures be enough to convince third parties to commit to more exclusives and thus spur on sales even more?

Notable PS3 third party exclusives are: ´Agent´, ´Final Fantasy XIII Versus´ and ´Final Fantasy XIV Online´, ´Heavenly Sword´, ´Last Guardian´, ´Metal Gear Solid 4´, ´Ninja Gaiden Sigma´ series, ´Ridge Racer 7´ and ´Valkyria Chronicles´. This list is clearly dominated by titles which do well in Japan, but may not prove to be blockbusters in Europe or North America. As a counterweight to this, first and second party titles appear to come predominantly from the company's North American and European branches, SCEA and SCEE. Yet with the majority of PS3 third party titles also available on Xbox360, which is significantly cheaper and boasts a more impressive list of third party exclusives, the Xbox360 still looks like the better proposition.

I believe that motion control will be the deciding factor. If the PS3's ´Sphere´ can outshine the 360's ´Project Natal´, Sony has a chance to come second this generation. The launch portfolio and the marketing will decide which system buyers will see as the technological successor to the Wii. ´Sphere´ has the advantage that the technology has been around and has been tested by Sony for almost ten years. At the ECTS 2001 in London (before the launch of ´Eye Toy´ for the PS2), I played a technological predecessor to ´Sphere´. Colored swords and maces were simulated on-screen and in real-time. This was only ever used in marginal games like ´Eye Toy Hero´. But Sony sure has perfected this technology since. It is a slim chance (pun intended), but 2010 could yet become the year of the PS3.

It could all go wrong, however. Let us not forget that IBM discontinued the Cell chip line, after Sony had talked the chip up to be the ultimate CPU, soon to revolutionise not just personal and super computers but also household electronics. This decision has ramifications for a possible PS3 successor, or rather betrays Sony's future plans (because if Sony had planned for a Cell-based PS4, IBM would not have discontinued the chip line). It seems highly unlikely that such a device would have a Cell-based chip, which in turn spells a high research and development budget. Quite obviously, this is money Sony does not have and/or is unwilling to invest. So, the worst case scenario is Sony no longer planning a PlayStation4. As unlikely as this might be, it is certainly a possibility.

It seems that there is next to no news regarding the Xbox360 at this point in time. And this is good. Unlike with the Wii and PS3, no third party is complaining about the platform, no analyst is heralding an imminent doom and most gamers seem content, too. Everyone is happy with the console's performance, it seems. And there is every reason to be.

Third party support is arguably the best among the three. Exclusive games of note include ´Alan Wake´, ´Lost Odyssey´, ´Blue Dragon´, ´GTA IV DLC´, ´Dead Rising´, ´Beautiful Katamari´, ´Lost Planet´ (timed), ´Gears of War´ and ´Mass Effect´ series, ´Too Human´, ´Ninety-Nine Nights´ and ´Prey´ series, ´Splinter Cell: Conviction´, ´Ridge Racer 6´, ´Quake 4´, ´Left 4 Dead´ series and ´Dead or Alive 4´. Alongside Microsoft's own efforts concentrating heavily on family friendly gaming (albeit this is more evident in their marketing than in the actual software output), I believe the 360's portfolio to be the most balanced overall, particularly as traditional gaming (without motion control) is concerned.

Of course, the console business has been an extremely costly endeavour for Microsoft, leaving nothing but a bill of around six billion US-Dollar by 2007. And while the division (which also includes the Zune player) is at least making money, their operating income declined 66 percent from 2008. As is the case with Sony, Microsoft still appears to be subsidizing most SKUs, since they shipped more consoles in 2009 than in 2008, while operating income fell.

Xbox 360 platform and PC game revenue decreased $161 million or 3%, primarily as a result of decreased revenue per Xbox 360 console due to price reductions during the past 12 months, partially offset by increased Xbox 360 console sales and increased Xbox Live revenue. We shipped 11.2 million Xbox 360 consoles during fiscal year 2009, compared with 8.7 million Xbox 360 consoles during fiscal year 2008. Foreign currency exchange rates accounted for a $74 million or one percentage point decrease in revenue.

It is fair to say that Microsoft bought its way into the home console business. But considering that the company has the financial stamina to continue investing in the project, this may yet turn out to be a worthwhile enterprise. I have always said that if Microsoft had known the full extent of the necessary investment, they would obviously never have entered the market. But now that they are in and seeing some success, they are here to stay.

They are still clearly in second place and ´Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2´ selling more than double on Xbox360 than on the PS3 in the US underlines their dominance in their home market. While the console will probably never see sustained growth in Japan, it is doing very well in Europe. And a strong position in two out of three territories, as well as the number two worldwide is not a bad place to be.

Just like I noted above, Microsoft's fortune will greatly depend on the public perception of ´Project Natal´ as opposed to Sony's ´Sphere´. I see the Wii as unbeatabale in this generation, just like the analyst cited above. But Nintendo will lose reputation to either of the competing motion control technologies. And ´Project Natal´ has some very compelling features. No controller at all is a great proposition for everyone who does not want videogaming invading his living room and cluttering up the space. The downside of it is that it is not easily suited for all kinds of games. I do not see any chance of playing a shooter with ease. And even for racing games, I doubt that it will deliver the precision needed. That will not be too much of a disadvantage if a game like ´Milo´ can bring a new level of artificial intelligence and interaction to gamers. If done right, this game alone has the power to keep Microsoft ahead of Sony for the remainder of this generation.

Sources: see above
Thanks to:
Joystiq, Joystiq, Joystiq

Friday, November 20, 2009

IBM discontinues Cell chip line, PS4 affected

IBM is discontinuing the Cell chip line of products. A successor to the current PowerXCell-8i chip will not be brought to market, the company's Vice President of Deep Computing, David Turek, told the German IT news site Heise.

Turek did note that the Cell design was not dead and would in parts be implemented across IBM's various other chip designs. The future, though, belongs to hybrid designs and heterogenous multiprocessing, Turek said.

The ramifications for a possible successor to the PlayStation3, which contains the Cell chip, could be significant. Its architecture can no longer be Cell-based, which would entail the following: Firstly, backwards compatibility to the PS3 would no longer be possible on a hardware basis. It would have to be emulated, which is always the worse option. And, secondly, Sony could no longer look forward to a relatively cheap research and development budget for the PS4.

Over the past two years, various reports have sprung up that Sony was very much considering a Cell-based chip for the PS4.

The plan to use variants of Cell in future PlayStation iterations was always in place, explains [Impress Watch technology writer Hiroshige Goto], which is why Sony invested so heavily in the chipset. However, while the use of the Cell in the PS4 may seem like Sony just sticking with its original plan, the real reason could be that the company in its current form doesn't have the reserves to create another chipset and build all the requisite development tools above it.

Going with Cell has the benefits of keeping production costs down for the PS4 and also allowing cutting game development costs due to a consistent architecture. Sony would also be able to include a smaller chip size from the start, potentially reducing the system's retail price.

Of course, IBM would not discontinue a chip line if Sony was still interested in it. So we can safely assume that Sony changed its mind. But why? A Cell-based solution would have had many advantages for the company, as noted above. One possible explanation would be that Sony has cancelled its plans for another PlayStation and will be leaving the home console market. Analysts discussed this option years ago.

And while the slimmer version and price cut have helped the console gain some market share, the price cut is costing Sony dearly. The Washington Post reported that Sony is further away from profitability than previously thought.

Sony (...) pushed back its target for an operating profit margin of 5 percent to March 2013. Chief Executive Howard Stringer had originally set the target in 2005 for the financial year to March 2008, but plans for recovery were waylaid by the economic slowdown.

In my mind, withdrawing from the home console market altogether is a real possibility. And IBM discontinuing the Cell chip line may be the first indicator of such a move.

EDIT I welcome all people from NeoGAF to read up on the exclusive stories I broke. I understand that some of you people may be suspicious of this blog's title but I can assure you that I am an impartial games journalist (have been for ten years) and work for a German television show focussing on games and technology.

It should not be a taboo to discuss the possibility of Sony withdrawing from the home console market. Given their financial status and their CEO's attitude, it is not out of the question. And with IBM discontinuing the Cell chip, Sony would have to invest a huge research and development budget into a new console. I welcome reasonable discussion and invite you to share your thoughts in the comments section.

EDIT Sony apparently considered the Intel Larrabee for the PlayStation4, a CPU / GPU hybrid, according to Japanese site PC Watch (translated by Joystiq). The plans have likely been abandoned since, as the project has been downgraded and delayed by Intel. An unnamed source within Sony Computer Entertainment is quoted as saying that the chip may be used in future generations: "Larrabee can help us to plan PS5 and PS6, but it cannot make it into PS4."

Sources: Heise (German), IGN, Washington Post
Thanks to: Joystiq

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wii 2 rumours a complete fabrication?

MaxConsole has published rumours about a possible hardware upgrade for the Wii console. The system is said to be Blu-ray enabled and will apparently feature 1080p support.

A simultaneous worldwide release date is said to be planned for the third quarter of 2010 and Nintendo is apparently considering a trade-in scheme for original Wii consoles. The site lists a marketing employee of Nintendo of France as the original source.

I would just like to remind people that MaxConsole has been one of the most unreliable gaming news sites on the net. They have both written complete bullshit as well as spread other people's.

My inside knowledge of Nintendo is that Nintendo of France would have absolutely no knowledge of such plans, if they existed, so early on. Nintendo of Europe, based in Frankfurt, is hardly ever told so well in advance of new hardware; at least not the guys in marketing. To me, this is a complete fabrication. The idea of such a trade-in scheme is also laughable.

Source: MaxConsole
Thanks to: TheOddOne

Friday, September 25, 2009

Nintendo cuts Wii price by twenty percent

Nintendo has cut the price of its Wii console by twenty percent to $199.99 in the US and by an equivalent amount in Japan. Nintendo's European media site makes no mention of the move, at least not in German. It seems that most of Europe will not benefit from a price cut, although France apparently will (according to the French news agency Agence France Press). There are conflicting reports regarding this territory. Previous rumours mentioned that European Wii bundles may be upgraded by a copy of ´Wii Sports Resort´.

It is the first price cut for the console, after a record-breaking period of almost three years. The move vindicates earlier rumours and is in keeping with my editorial below. In a press release, the company details the decision:

The new $199.99 Wii price point delivers the full iconic Wii gaming experience, including the motion-sensing Wii Remote™ controller, Nunchuk™ controller and Wii Sports™ software, and furthers Nintendo's mission to expand the gaming universe by making video games accessible to more and more consumers. (...)

"Wii has reached more video game players than any game system before because it attracts everyone—both men and women, and people of all ages," said Cammie Dunaway, Nintendo of America's executive vice president of Sales & Marketing. "Our research shows there are 50 million Americans thinking about becoming gamers, and this more affordable price point and our vast array of new software mean many of them can now make the leap and find experiences that appeal to them, whatever their tastes or level of gaming experience."

Reuters (via Yahoo News) reports about the economic repercussions of the news, which coincided with Sony Computer Entertainment president Kaz Hirai's keynote speech at the Tokyo Game Show.

Following the announcements of the Wii price cut and Hirai's keynote speech, shares of Nintendo closed up 0.5 percent at 24,550 yen, while Sony gained 3.1 percent to 2,670 yen and the benchmark Nikkei average rose 1.7 percent.

News of Nintendo's price cut came just as Hirai was delivering his keynote speech.

EDIT Just to clarify the situation in Europe: Nintendo has not set a recommended retail price, but will reduce the wholesale price of the console. This will result in a price cut from €249 to €199, valid for the whole of Europe, except for the UK and Ireland. There, the price will remain but the bundle will be upgraded by the inclusion of ´Wii Sports Resort´ and a Motion Plus dongle.

Sources: Nintendo of America, Reuters (via Yahoo News)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Why the Wii needs a price cut fast

Smooth ride up until now

The Wii needs a price cut fast and here is why. Up until now, Nintendo has had a very smooth ride this generation. They started out with the lowest price proposition by far and the most revolutionary, intuitive and immersive control scheme and biggest fun factor to top it all off. At least, that is what more than 50 million people around the globe think.

Sure, the white box can only deliver 480p as its top resolution. And the rest of its hardware is equally modest, making sure that most graphics-intensive games by third parties get either a toned down version, a completely unique adaptation (some examples are ´Overlord: Dark Legend´, ´Dead Space Extraction´, ´Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles´) or pass the console by completely. But, all the unquestionable Nintendo goodness aside (´Metroid Prime 3´, ´Zelda: Twilight Princess´, ´Super Mario Galaxy´), hardcore gamers got a few third party gems, too. Particularly in the survival horror genre, Wii boasts more titles than any other console ever offered, I reckon (I have counted 20 already) and some are absolute must-haves. So, Wii sold to new gamers as well as to veterans, who probably own more than one console anyway. And it has been smooth sailing for Nintendo up until now, with Wii selling about as many units as the two competitors put together.

Microsoft seemed to endlessly tweak the SKU variety of their Xbox360 as well as their price. And, leaving the elusive fun factor aside, the 360 has been the best value proposition by far for a long time. But even this circumstance could not change the reality that is each companies' respective market share. Sure, Nintendo has hit dry spells in the past, with other consoles selling more units for a few months in one territory or another. But these dips were usually related to a lighter release calendar. When bigger titles drew nearer, sales rose again.

Software no longer moves hardware

Not anymore, it seems. The news of Wii hardware sales taking a 30 percent dip in the US last month despite the release of ´Wii Sports Resort´ should have Nintendo worried. Very worried, in my opinion. Because the title should move hardware as much as any other Nintendo game. A gigantic marketing campaign in the US should have made sure that the consumers were aware of the release. The fact that it did not move a significant amount of hardware can only really mean one thing: everyone that wanted to buy a Wii in the said territory has bought one. If a title like ´Wii Sports Resort´ cannot invigorate sales, then no title can (at least not of Nintendo's casual variety, which undoubtedly was the backbone of the console's success). The only option available to Nintendo of America may be a price drop. This would surely convince more people to hop on the Wii bandwagon. But software no longer seems to move hardware.

Upcoming games to disappoint

First, a little reality check: Am I being unfair here? Of course, all the other consoles sold badly in July. Well, yes. But the PS3 only took a 25 percent dip and the 360 went down a mere 15 points, only half of the Wii's loss. That is a significant difference. But what about other territories? In Japan, year-to-date year-over-year changes show big losses for the console. Europe may be the Wii's last resort (this is actually a double pun, if you remember an obscure PC game from 1996) but a worldwide downward trend is becoming clearer and clearer, it seems.

But what about other upcoming titles, particularly the third party portfolio, which is still a sore spot for Wii owners? Surely, exclusive titles like ´Monster Hunter Tri´ or ´Red Steel 2´ will sell hardware to the traditional crowd, if the more casual titles now fail to shift consoles. Unfortunately, I have it on good authority that both of these highly anticipated games will not deliver. They may look nice, but both titles are being rushed out of the door. Wii owners will have a few good survival horror titles to mull over. But there is no shortage of those on the platforms. So a ´Dead Space Extraction´, no matter how good it will be, will not become the killer app that a polished ´Monster Hunter Tri´ could have become.

Price cut the only solution

Especially with the PlayStation3's price drop and sleeker re-design, as well as motion control around the corner for both high definition consoles, Nintendo is coming under intense pressure this generation for the very first time. The only way out seems to be a price cut, preferably to be announced around Tokyo Game Show next month (though Nintendo will not exhibit, as always). I do not see any alternative for Nintendo (and I am not alone with this opinion), if they want to maintain the impressive momentum they have exhibited so far. This is the curse of a runaway success: maintaining it. After all, a boom, in economics, is a highly unstable and volatile state. And if they do not re-position the Wii's price point, Nintendo may soon find out the hard way.

EDIT Looks like I was spot on with my analysis. The following image was published by Kotaku. It may be fake, of course. But both the timing and extent of the price cut would fit perfectly, so I believe it is legit.

Source: Joystiq, Joystiq, Chart Get! Chart Get!
Thanks to: Some German Guy

Monday, July 06, 2009

Sony CEO shrugs off mounting pressure to cut PS3 price

Sony Corp. CEO Howard Stringer has shrugged off Activision's demand to either cut the price of the PlayStation3 or risk losing the Activision portfolio. Stringer spoke to Reuters about the threat issued by Activision CEO Robert A. Kotick:

He likes to make a lot of noise. (...) He's putting pressure on me and I'm putting pressure on him. That's the nature of business.

Reuters then asked Stringer about the logic of not giving in to the demands and cutting the price, to which Stringer mysteriously replied:

I (would) lose money on every PlayStation I make -- how's that for logic.

This statement is an odd one because Sony has lost money on every unit sold from day one and still is, according to Sony CFO Nobuyuki Oneda. Referring to the end of March, Oneda stated that Sony still subsidized each console sold with around $42.

I contacted the author and editor of the article to verify how and why the word ´would´ was added. This is the reply I received.

I think you can use the story without the word "would". It was probably added in the editing process in an attempt to clarify the quote, which was "I lose money on every PlayStation I make -- how's that for logic."

So what did Stringer mean? Was he self-critical of his company's business model of subsidizing consoles? Confronted with the assertion that there is no logic in not cutting the price, did his reply insinuate that there is already no logic in Sony's business model of heavy subsidies? Please discuss.

The pressure on Sony to cut the price is certainly mounting. Only days ago, the CEO of Tecmo Koei, Kenji Matsubara, chimed in on the debate in an interview with CVG:

Whenever I discuss this with Sony reps I always ask them: "Please cut the price", but I don't have a clear view on Sony's situation. Yes, from a publisher's point of view we would welcome a price cut for PS3, and we are waiting, definitely.

It's definitely a way of boosting the PS3 market, but it's Sony's strategy and I don't know their cost structure. Sony introduced cutting-edge technology in the PS3, that's why people in the industry accept that the PS3 cost is so high, but we'd welcome a price cut.

In 2007, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot and Square Enix president Yoichi Wada were the first to criticize Sony's pricing and marketing strategy, respectively.

Sources: Reuters, CVG
Thanks to: idahoblue, Some Guy

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Activision Blizzard threatens to stop PlayStation support

Activision Blizzard, the world's largest third party publisher, has warned that they "might have to stop supporting Sony" as early as next year, the company's CEO Robert A. Kotick told the British daily newspaper The Times.

I'm getting concerned about Sony; the PlayStation 3 is losing a bit of momentum and they don't make it easy for me to support the platform. It's expensive to develop for the console, and the Wii and the Xbox are just selling better. Games generate a better return on invested capital on the Xbox than on the PlayStation. (...)

They [Sony] have to cut the price, because if they don't, the attach rates are likely to slow. If we are being realistic, we might have to stop supporting Sony. (...) When we look at 2010 and 2011, we might want to consider if we support the console — and the PSP [portable] too.

Analysts have already predicted doom and gloom for Sony Computer Entertainment, which is nothing unusual. Analysts do not have to be terribly diplomatic and others have voiced similar criticism concerning the other console manufacturers. But this is not the first time that Sony has been confronted with unusually harsh criticism by third party publishers, which is rare in this industry.

Back in May and September of 2007, respectively, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot demanded a price cut for the console ("They have to decrease the price quite significantly") and Square Enix president Yoichi Wada criticized Sony's marketing efforts ("[The future of the PS3] would be tough if its marketing strategy is not straightened up.")

The future of the PlayStation depends on when Sony will reduce the PS3's price tag. The latest guess by an analyst is August. But I maintain that Sony simply has not got the financial resources to reduce the price until Christmas. Sony CEO Stringer has made it quite clear that he puts profitability above everything else.

The real question is, though, whether Activision Blizzard is merely bluffing or if these unusually harsh comments contain a very real threat. Sure, a number of the publisher's games sold more than a million on the PS3. So the console generates revenue for them. We simply don't know what little profit is left. Kotick revealed some of the additional costs of developing for Sony, noting that Activision Blizzard "paid $500 million to Sony in royalties and other goods last year." Again, such a disclosure is highly unusual. What is Kotick up to? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

EDIT Videogame analyst Michael Pachter has commented on the story, noting:

Of course Bobby’s bluffing, and good for him. (...) I think Bobby’s obviously interested in Sony selling as many PS3s as they possibly can, and he’s not happy with their penetration so far. I think he favours a price cut, and would rather see one sooner than later.

Sony Computer Entertainment has yet to respond in a meaningful way.

I would also like to remind you of the last big debate about whether the PlayStation3 is dead or dying. Back in December, an analyst's assertion that the PS3 was a "sinking ship" which was "flopping so badly" had sparked a lively debate which I quoted extensively.

EDIT As expected, the news of Activision's threat has sparked a lively debate, which I will attempt to capture here, in the familiar style of guest commentary.

Sony's clearly in a pinch

Is the PS3 really losing momentum? It depends, as usual, on where you're standing. Since the system launched in late 2006, it's clearly been growing in year over year unit sales. In 2008--the system's best year yet--Sony sold over 10 million PS3s worldwide. And while sales have been down for all contenders recently, Sony's sold nearly as many PS3s worldwide as Microsoft has Xbox 360s so far this year. Of course Microsoft still has more than a third as many Xbox 360s in the wild, but since 2008, Sony's slowly (very slowly) been gaining. (...)

That said, Sony's clearly in a pinch. Its game division lost nearly $600 million in 2008, the PS3 consistently lags in NPD's US sales reports, and the system charts the fewest high sales software titles month after month.

If Sony lowers the PS3's price, we've been assuming they'll lose even more money. But if they keep it sky-high, they theoretically stifle sales and by virtue thereof, their growth rate, frustrating publishers, who naturally want to sell to as many customers as possible.
PC World

Stark and somewhat surprising

A stark and somewhat surprising statement. (...) PS3 price cut soon, surely?

Could seriously hurt console sales

That’s pretty serious considering Activision is the largest video game publisher in the world. It probably won’t come to that — I can’t see them not lowering the cost in the next year or so regardless of what Kotick thinks — but if I were Sony I would definitely be a little nervous about this. If this inspires some bravado in EA and they make a similar statement it could seriously hurt console sales.
A+E Interactive

The pressure is on

For its part, Sony, which is mired in third place behind Nintendo and Microsoft in the next-gen game-console wars, keeps saying it won't be pressured into trimming the price of the PS3. But with industry heavyweights like Activision making these types of remarks, it's becoming more and more clear that the pressure is indeed on.

Ever saw a publisher threaten a platform holder?

In that absolute worst-case scenario, that would mean no Call of Duty for Sony consoles. No Guitar Hero for Sony consoles. No Tony Hawk, either. It probably won't ever come to that, of course, but Kotick's words are still worth noting. After all, when was the last time you ever saw a third-party publisher so openly threaten a major platform holder?

A huge bomb

Activision boss Bobby Kotick has dropped a huge bomb on Sony. (...) While Kotick may sound a bit cocky here, I don't think Sony wants to sit on statements like these. And no one is going to argue about the PS3 needing a price cut either.

Nintendo has issued similar denials

Sony has continued to insist that it will not be pressured into lowering PS3 prices before the 2009 holiday season.

"I think everybody but us would love to see it given away for free," Jack Tretton, president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America told CNBC. He added that cheapest wasn't always the most successful, but rather, "what you get for your dollar."

It should be noted that Nintendo has issued similar denials regarding a lowered Wii price tag, despite confirmation of a (May) 57 percent year-on-year drop in sales.
TG Daily

What if EA said the same thing?

Now, Kotick's words are just corporate smacktalk (bottom line: Activision still makes money on the platform). But what if a company like EA came forward and said the same thing? No good can come of this for Sony.

Activision Blizzard needs the numbers Sony delivers

Is it a credible threat? That is hard to say, but the industry has ample evidence of just how ruthless Activision Blizzard has become. (...) By slamming the console maker in public it creates a perception of weakness witih Sony's platforms. Now the developer is in a very good position to bargain for lower licensing fees, help with advertising dollars, or other financial rewards to "stick with" the PS3 and PSP platforms.

It's doubtful Activision Blizzard has lost money by supporting the PS3 and PSP as platforms, and again, the company needs the numbers Sony delivers to meet its goal of having Modern Warfare 2 be the "biggest property launch of all time." What Kotick can do is attack Sony in the press and create a perception of weakness and then exploit it for better terms when releasing these blockbuster titles, and that's what we're seeing here.
Ars Technica

A crazy precedent

Activision is the world's largest third-party publisher, with huge franchises like World of Warcraft, Guitar Hero and, most importantly, Call of Duty under its belt. The loss of even Call of Duty seems to me like it would significantly hurt the PS3. Still, the big question everyone is wondering is if Kotick has enough sway to actually force Sony into a price drop. Maybe Kotick's just blowing steam, but it'd be a crazy precedent for the largest publisher to drop the system entirely.

Cutting prices would be difficult for Sony

Kotick's comments have weight because of the market strength of Activision. The company is the world's largest independent computer games company and has a market value of $16 billion.

Cutting PS3 prices would be difficult for Sony. The company last month reported its first annual loss in 14 years, caused by a strong yen and a sales slump in its consumer electronics business. While the economic downturn hurt sales, Sony also suffered from competitors' lower prices.

As a result, sales in Sony's electronics business fell 17% from the previous fiscal year, and revenue from its game unit fell 18%. While Sony sold more units of the PS3 and PSP, the company saw a drop in software sales.

PS3 could be Sony's last big console

Could Activision really be considering ditching the PS3? If so, this concept breathes a lot of life into the possibility that the PS3 could be Sony's last big console. Sure, the company would stay afloat if Activision was the only publisher to back away, but that might encourage a lot of publishers to get out of Dodge. Is Sony a sinking ship? (...)

I'm a firm believer in the idea that all three console makers should have a spot on the market. Competition breeds excellence and innovation. Sony cannot disappear, if they do... what would happen to gaming?

A total bluff

Sounds like a total bluff — I can’t see Activision pulling support from Sony, but I can see them attempting to influence PS3’s price by publicly threatening to.

Sources: The Times, VG247
Thanks to: Joystiq

Sunday, June 07, 2009

How good is ´The Conduit´?

76 percent?

How good is the futuristic Wii shooter ´The Conduit´? With many hopes pinned on a handful of more mature Wii games paving the way for a steadier flow of such titles, gamers, journalists and industry insiders are closely watching the critical and commercial reception of said games. Among them, ´The Conduit´ appears to be one of the big hopefuls with most observers, as well as the most controversial with some. While noone denies that it offers astounding visuals, its gameplay and originality are sometimes drawn into question.

A third and critical review has now surfaced that offers that very assessment. The score by the UK's Official Nintendo Magazine, though not catastrophic, is a sobering 76 percent. An article by GoNintendo which linked scans of the review got subsequently deleted and only exists in its Yahoo cache version. The review remarks:

It's really not bad at all. It looks nice, it feels nice and feels decidely grown up. Unfortunately it also feels about ten years old. The rosy whiff of Rare's ´Perfect Dark´ is detectable through much of ´The Conduit´, though that's no bad thing. The action is seemless and immediate, the story is fast-paced and full of conspiracy. (...)

The problem is you can detect the formula almost immediately. Run through a corridor, crouch behind a box and chuck a grenade, flush out side rooms, storm bigger rooms, restore health, repeat all over again. There's nothing wrong with that, it just might mean you lose the incentive to get through the whole ten or so hours of the game's single player campaign. (...)

The reason ´The Conduit´ falls short of must have status is down to the repetition on offer in terms of influences and design decisions. Levels often become a chore, especially the ones set in dull grey military facilities, while the drudge aliens are aptly named. For all its lack of inspiration, ´The Conduit´ is still an enjoyable shooter. Just don't expect miracles.

I find it slightly irritating that the review's tone is largely positive and does not appear, in my mind, to match the review score. The only criticism seems to be lack of originality and the article notes more than once that that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Article deleted

So why has the GoNintendo article been deleted? While the magazine itself insists that the game has officially not yet been rated, there are two alternatives. The most likely is that the rating stands, the publisher simply wants to prevent early publication. For the very same reason, GoNintendo recently had to pull an article based on information by the same magazine publisher.

The second, less likely explanation is that early publication of the rating has led to a formal complaint by the publisher and the rating has been recalled by the magazine. Often, reviews are based on review code, which may differ substantially from the final retail version. And sometimes, there is flawed communication between studio, publisher and reviewer about which aspects will still be changed. This is unlikely, but has happened before.

Other review scores

Let us assume the rating stands and compare it to the others. Nintendo Power gave ´The Conduit´ only a little more, at 80 percent. Here is a summary of their alleged explanation:

The Conduit – “worthwhile endeavor” but wouldn’t “make as big an impact on a competing console”

-large amount of customization
-good weapon selection
-Intriguing locals (Library of Congress, Pentagon, etc.)
-“platform defining online play”
-Bounty Hunter mode
-best pure first person shooter on the Wii

-story is rote
-enemy AI fails to impress
-little innovation to speak of (outside if the controls)
-level of detail in the environment can be inconsistent at times
-no destructible environments
-The “All Seeing Eye” is a cool idea but underutilized
-the abrupt, Halo-esque ending (hints at a sequel?)

In fact, here is a scan of the entire article, courtesy of

Finally, a German Wii magazine gave the game 87 percent. All in all, those are not catastrophic review scores, like I said before. But the fear is that if an official Nintendo magazine gives the game a 76, scores by important online portals like Gamespot or IGN could be lower.

Rave previews

What is also irritating is that the game received some rave previews. The Official Nintendo Magazine praised the game only in April. And the preview was written by the very same author. His review, as noted above, seems to find mostly praise for the game and differs little from the preview. It is mainly the review score that does not seem to fit the picture.

So how good is ´The Conduit´? We simply cannot tell right now. It is reassuring to note that the graphics really appear to live up to the hype. But a little originality would not be a bad thing, either. It will be interesting to keep track of the game's Metacritic score, averaging all important reviews, as more scores come in.

Also, let us bear in mind that critical reception is not as important as commercial success. And even poor sales figures of ´The Conduit´ would not convince publishers that the Wii is no vehicle for mature games. But the title is an important piece in the puzzle and its commercial success will go some way towards more such games in the near future.

EDIT The rating stands. Metacritic has now included the 76 percent rating on the game's profile.

EDIT In their review, IGN gave the game a staggering 86 percent. The article made me wonder whether the good people over at IGN read this blog. Read it for yourself.

I've no doubt that overzealous system-hating fanboys will assert that there is nothing particularly special about The Conduit, but I don't believe that. In my experience, the title features the tightest, most comfortable control scheme of any console-based first-person shooter to date and that's true because of an innovative, highly customizable configuration that's already changing the way developers approach FPSs on Wii. (...)

Meanwhile, the technology powering the experience is leaps and bounds ahead of most third- party offerings for Nintendo's system. Combined, you've got a game that controls flawlessly and looks great. If you're okay with a few presentational cliches -- a story involving aliens that seems played out -- and a shooting experience that rarely strays from straightforward running and gunning, you're probably going to love the end product. If, on the other hand, you own another system, nothing The Conduit offers, fantastic controls aside, will seem extraordinary. Supposing you are a single console owner, though, High Voltage's shooter not only delivers a fun single-player quest, but an engaging online mode that will keep you fragging complete with WiiSpeak support for months to come.

With poor ratings by Gamespot and especially 1Up (58 percent), the Metacritic average now stands at 75 percent. It is rare to see a game display such a broad range of ratings by the main reviewers.

Source: GoNintendo (Yahoo cache)
Thanks to: GoNintendo, grandjedi6, Nintendo-Online (German)

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

E3 2009: Microsoft challenging Nintendo, Sony finished

So, the three press briefings have come and gone. What remains? Quite obviously, Microsoft had the biggest surprise in store for us. Project Natal is certainly ambitious and may serve to position the Xbox360 quite differently in terms of target demographic. Nintendo, while briefly showing that odd finger sensor had almost no surprises when it comes to hardware. Team Ninja working on a new Metroid game was the big news of the briefing and it is hard to exaggerate the ramifications of this collaboration, given Nintendo’s poor track record with third party developers in the past.

Immediately, arguments ensued over whether Xbox360’s Natal or Wii’s Motion Plus will be the more accurate system. But that appears to be an academic debate. The big question in my mind is: where does that leave Sony? The truly gargantuan sales figures of a ´Brain Age´ and a ´Wii Fit´ clearly show where the gaming mainstream has shifted to (or rather, where the new mainstream has been discovered). This is precisely where Nintendo is positioned and it clearly is where Microsoft would like to be with Natal. Sony, however, will have nothing to offer this new mainstream. If they really are working on a Wiimote-like controller themselves, they will show it no earlier than E3 2010 and it will launch no earlier than 2011. This will be too late for this generation because, in my mind, by 2011, Microsoft and Nintendo will be talking about their successor consoles. And with the next generation of consoles, no one will care about a PS3 peripheral.

It seems quite obvious that the PlayStation3 will be falling behind even further, after the E3 announcements. While mainstream gaming has shifted (and opened up to millions new gamers in the process), Sony has remained where the mainstream used to be. Of course, ´God of War III´ will be a spectacular game. But, in terms of sales figures, it will be a niche product and fail to move substantial amounts of hardware. Especially given that Sony boss Stringer will not allow a price cut until Christmas at the earliest. I am absolutely sure: Sony will remain in third place for this generation and I am even less optimistic about Sony’s progress in the next console cycle.

EDIT I stand corrected. Sony did show motion controls other than the Sixaxis. I was unable to watch the Sony conference and really had not seen the motion control section in Joystiq’s live transcription. Sorry. Thanks to Some Guy for pointing out my mistake.

It is interesting to note that I wrote about the patent most likely implicated by this technology back in 2005 and I even tried out a similar prototype at the 2001 ECTS, London’s former videogame expo. There, a webcam connected to the PlayStation2 was tuned to certain bright colours and had the dimensions of various tools and weapons stored in memory. Holding a brightly coloured plastic sword or mace, the console could estimate a 3D position based on the object’s dimensions by comparing them to the actual view in perspective. This way, the same weapon was replicated in the game and moved almost in real-time to my movements. Considering this was fake 3D – since the console only estimated a spatial position based on the distorted perspective of a 2D image – it worked pretty well. It seems to me that the demo shown at the Sony conference was almost the same technology and will work the same way.

However, even if the technology shown will be available next year and works well, it is still no comparison to Nintendo’s and Microsoft’s real 3D motion controls. The only advantage is that Sony’s approach should work with a standard webcam, which will make it the cheapest of the three. But the experience may be less immersive, too. So I stand by my initial judgement: Microsoft may be successfully moving on what now is Nintendo’s turf – the new mainstream – but Sony will most likely fail to catch up.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Telecommunications giant behind ´ZuneX´ fake

The ´ZuneX´ rumour I recently reported about is a fake, I can exclusively reveal. It is an interesting fake, though, since it is perpetuated by German telecommunications giant and multinational corporation Deutsche Telekom AG, Europe's largest according to Wikipedia.

The German gaming site who posted the various ´ZuneX´ images, Mimbee, notes in their imprint that they are part of the Telekom's network. The Whois information for the domain confirm this. While I found it hard to believe that a multinational corporation would be behind such a fake, my research revealed that the gaming site is not even an outside commission job, but an in-house development. Apparently, their reasons for the stunt have nothing to do with hunting down cheap clicks, though, as a member of staff wrote to me in an email. Above everything else, it was meant to be satirical, they claimed.

I replied, voicing concern that a large corporation has joined the ranks of fifteen year-olds in their parents' basement by devising and perpetuating such a relatively elaborate fake. Their reply, again, contained no apology.

To this day, the site has not come clean on the fake. Quite the contrary. In a recent entry, the Telekom bragged about the reach of the story, including mentions in the Playboy, Yahoo, Boing Boing and various reputable gaming news sites.

In my mind, this episode is nothing more than a cheap attempt at getting clicks. It is flawed viral marketing by another multinational (remember Sony's attempt) and it will most likely become equally successful. And, for those people who know what the term means, that last comment was meant to be satirical.

It's one thing to have to debunk teenagers. It's quite another thing when someone like the Deutsche Telekom is leading you on, in a desperate hunt for page impressions.

EDIT You can read the original story in German over on my newsroom's blog.

Image Source:

Friday, May 15, 2009

Microsoft to enter handheld market?

Microsoft will announce a handheld gaming console at the E3 next month according to substantial rumours by Mimbee, a previously unknown German gaming site.

The rumour concerns ´ZuneX´, a Zune media player which doubles as a gaming console. Its alleged features include obviously dedicated software, as well as compatibility with Xbox Live Arcade and the recently announced cloud gaming service OnLive. It is said to feature MicroSD and SIM card slots, making at least some mobile phone functions likely.

Its tech specs are comparable to the original Xbox, at least in parts. The news site has since published a wealth of images, including a product shot, logo, a snapshot of a presentation, a snapshot of a hands-on session and five detail shots of a product sheet showing tech specs.

Of course, we need to ask the question whether the above images are real or just an elaborate fake. In my mind, ZX-1000 is too close a product code to the PSP. But that is nothing more than a hunch. There are further reasons to believe that the images are fake.

On the third image showing tech specs, under the heading ´Input´, there is the entry ´Customizable controll. A spelling mistake like this one is highly unlikely on a legitimate document of this type.

Also, an alleged Microsoft Office Twitter account is cited in the story which stated that "June 2009 will be an important month for Zune lovers" and later added: "New product launch, that's all I'm allowed to say. Hold off from buying an iPhone/Pre. :)"

This appears to be a mistake, though. The official Microsoft Twitter account in question is this one, as the above user admitted himself.

What is certain is that a German Xbox representative twittered: "As of today, I am really pissed that I'm not going to be at E3. Unfortunately, I can only say more on June 2nd." This could be entirely unrelated to the above rumour, though.

I was initially swayed to believe that the images were real. But the fact that the Twitter account is not an official Microsoft one makes them far less credible. The website also cannot be traced back to reliable Whois information. They claim to be a gaming site run by German telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom AG. Given the very colloquial style of the site, I find this highly doubtful. T-Online's gaming site really does link to the site but calls it "a satirical video blog." Of course, I will investigate this further next week.

Finally, a spelling mistake in documents such as above is only a subtle indicator, but it makes me even more sceptical. I myself believe that the story is fake. What do you think? Do you find any other clues in the material above? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

EDIT There is a similar rumour about a revised Zune player codenamed "xYz", which is described as a "digital entertainment handheld". TeamXbox claims to have learned about the device from several inside sources.

Apparently, the device "sits somewhere in-between the Xbox and Zune platforms, offering both gaming and media playback, as well as Internet-related services, all in a portable format." The codename "xYz" is meant to symbolize that the device will act as a catalyst between those two platforms, Xbox and Zune.

Another source consulted for this story confirmed the development of such mobile device, at least as of December of last year. This source defined the Microsoft handheld as “unlike anything on the market today,” and said that the only way to describe it is to “think of a mashup of the Sony Mylo, the PSP, and the iPhone… errr, the iPod Touch; [the MS handheld] doesn’t need access to a phone network.” That last sentence was one of the juiciest comments made, since the source wanted to emphasize this device lacks access to a phone network and that’s why he changed the iPhone example with the iPod Touch.

Even if several analysts and publications have reported that Microsoft is planning to market its own smartphone, this second source told me not to expect any business application or user interface (UI) that resembles a smartphone. Furthermore, the source stressed:

“Although the Microsoft handheld is definitely a converged device, this is not a Zune Phone.” The source added: “Microsoft won’t compete with its Windows Mobile customers.”

There is far more information in the article itself, so head on over.

With the source and the article oozing journalistic integrity and, as such, reliability, this rumour appears far more credible to me than the one above. I have also been told by someone working directly for one of the current two handheld manufacturers that the spec sheet of the alleged ´ZuneX´ looks highly unusual.

EDIT I can exclusively reveal that the entire ´ZuneX´ rumour and concerned documents are fake. For more, intriguing details please read my next post.

Source: Mimbee
Thanks to: Gameswelt (German)
Image Source:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Nintendo to reveal Wii 2 soon, analyst believes

In an online article, English newspaper The Times speculates that Nintendo may soon have to detail plans for a successor to their current home console, for Wii 2, if you will.

The reason cited by the author is economic pressure, a highly controversial stance. Although market leader and clearly the most profitable of the three hardware manufacturers, Nintendo stock has also been affected by the economic crisis, the author notes.

Speculation over Nintendo’s development of a Wii 2 console has intensified as the company’s stock has crumpled and the industry approaches the closely watched E3 trade show in Los Angeles next month.

In a shock to the markets yesterday, Nintendo reported that its profits in 2008 were the strongest on record but said that it would struggle to repeat the performance as sales of its two main consoles — the Wii and the DS — level off and foreign exchange turmoil destroys margins.

The author is clearly very critical of the Wii console. The headline "Nintendo admits Wii is close to its ultimate level" appears to be a gross exaggeration of the assertion below that "the company believes that sales of the Wii console will grow by less than 1 per cent this year from the 26 million units last year and gave warning of a 3 per cent decline in sales of the DS from last year’s 31 million." Likewise, the article's assessment of Nintendo's line-up is a sober one.

The once seemingly boundless possibilities offered by the Wii’s innovative control system appear to be reaching their limits and the console is beginning to look underpowered compared with the Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation3.

Hiroshi Kamide, of KBC Securities in Tokyo, said the weak-looking pipeline of Wii titles meant there would be a lot of attention on the next instalment of the Zelda games and when it was likely to be released. The series has produced a string of blockbusters for Nintendo and the announcement that the latest instalment may be in the shops by Christmas could be the “killer application” that Wii needs.

Nintendo's economic standing is unclear, at best. While news agency AFP reports that "Nintendo defies recession with record profits", Reuters reports that "Nintendo sees slowdown ahead". The company's shares really have slipped significantly. But it is important to understand that the share price had pretty much quadrupled in the period before. So, I guess, it all depends on whether Nintendo can continue to offer compelling software which will drive hardware sales further.

Also, the author is clearly highly critical of Nintendo. As mentioned above, the headline "Nintendo admits Wii is close to its ultimate level" is a bold interpretation of figures only. The company's most recent financial statement contains no assertion to the effect suggested by the headline. While the numbers are correct, the article also notes that Nintendo "is known for issuing hyper-conservative forecasts, only to exceed them triumphantly later in the year." This is a contradiction in terms.

But what about the article's reference to a Wii successor? In my mind, this argument is completely ridiculous. The hardware manufacturer under the most pressure is Sony, without a doubt. They went from "first to worst", as some analysts had predicted. The entire corporation is in a desperate financial situation and reliable rumours about a revised PlayStation Portable which will do away with Sony's proprietary UMD medium are a clear sign of that. If anyone is under pressure to announce a successor console, it's Sony. And they quite obviously will not, although a successor must already be under way.

With the PlayStation3, Sony may be committed to a ten year life cycle. But Microsoft will clearly pull a successor to its Xbox360 out of the hat before 2012 by the latest. The same goes for Nintendo. And if the PS3 isn't selling now, why should it be selling in three years time, when there will be two next-gen consoles out, which are both sure to surpass the PS3 in either hardware power or controller scheme or both.

On top of that, the argument is flawed in itself, I believe. How would annoucing a successor help any company sell their current product? If anything, consumers might hold off on buying the current model.

So, to sum things up, my predictions for E3 announcements are clear: no new consoles will be announced. Instead, there will be plenty of new peripherals shown for all three competitors. While Microsoft is highly likely to reduce their console's price tag further, Nintendo will not because they are still selling extremely well and Sony will not because the company's boss Stringer finally wants to see a meagre profit from his multi-billion investment.

If you are wondering, though, what a Wii 2 might look like, check out this neat mock-up.

Source: The Times
Thanks to: MaxConsole